News & Opinion

The Oscars 2011

Morning after, but King Colin & Co are still walking on air

The Times

March 1, 2011


The morning after the night before, and where only hours earlier Colin Firth, newly anointed Best Actor, had twirled on the red carpet with Oscars co-host Anne Hathaway, the pavement outside the Vanity Fair party on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard was being hosed down. The stars of The King’s Speech, winner of Best Picture, Actor, Director and Original Screenplay, had joined the rest of Hollywood’s A-listers at the VF party at the Sunset Tower Hotel on a night where Britain emerged triumphant at the 83rd Academy Awards.

“There’s nothing to protect now,” said one security guard on Monday, as inside the hotel where Helena Bonham Carter had partied with her husband, Tim Burton, and where Justin Bieber held court with friends in a banquet with his girlfriend, Selena Gomez, the mess was being cleared and chairs stacked.

Hours earlier Gwyneth Paltrow had been in deep conversation with Cameron Diaz and Taylor Swift, and Hathaway intensely ensconced with Jane Fonda. Tom Hooper, director of The King’s Speech, who had paid tribute to his mother in his Best Director acceptance speech, clutched his statuette and beamed alongside her. But Hollywood is a business town, and by 8.30am yesterday, gone was the red carpet, the champagne and tequila, gone was the lockdown security. The Sunset Tower’s breakfast of muffins, berries and bran had replaced the In-N-Out burgers served to celebrity guests at midnight.

Yesterday, having not slept and still wearing his tuxedo and clutching his Oscar, Firth said on American television: “Although it’s a wonderful thing, it’s a shame it’s a competition.” After winning the Oscar, he had waded into controversial waters by claiming the axing of the UK Film Council, which had part-funded The King’s Speech, was “short-sighted”, and he condemned the expletive-free, PG-13 version of the film recently edited for American audiences. “I think the film has its integrity as it stands,” he said.

Firth paid tribute to his fellow nomi- nees and cast members and the screenwriter David Seidler. The film’s director, Hooper, had shown “immense courage and clear-sightedness”. Hooper looked shocked when he won Best Director, as David Fincher had been expected to win, for The Social Network. He paid tribute to his mother, who in 2007 unearthed The King’s Speech at a theatre reading. “She almost didn’t go. Thankfully she did and came home and rang me up — ‘Tom, I think I’ve found your next film’. The moral of this story is: Listen to your mother.” Seidler said that he accepted the Original Screenplay award on behalf of all stutterers.

The British actor Christian Bale was another Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a drug-addled ex-boxer in The Fighter. “What a roomful of talented, inspirational people, and what am I doing here?” he said. The British director Christopher Nolan’s film Inception won various technical awards: Cinematography, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. Natalie Portman won the Best Actress Oscar, as had been ex- pected, and among others, thanked her fiancé, Benjamin Millepied, for choreographing the film and, indicating her pregnancy bump, “for giving me my most important role in my life”.

In bizarre scenes presided over by the veteran actor Kirk Douglas, the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress went to Melissa Leo for The Fighter. “You’re much more beautiful than you were in The Fighter,” he told her. “What are you doing later?” replied Leo, before shouting the f-word in her acceptance speech.

The King’s Speech’s greatest threat, The Social Network, won the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin, as well as Original Score and Editing. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland won the Art Direction award. Toy Story 3 won the prize for Animated Film, while Susanne Bier’s In A Better World won best Foreign Language film.

Banksy, the street artist nominated for the Documentary Feature prize for Exit through the Gift Shop, didn’t win. It wasn’t known if he attended the ceremony.

But just to underline that the British have left their mark on Los Angeles, his spokeswoman revealed that he had created seven murals in the city.